#FirstDraft120 Days 60-67ish: Discovering the Force #amwriting #writersblock
It doesn’t seem to matter how often I tell myself that this time I’m committed to get back into writing. This time, I’m going to make it work. This time, I’m actually going to stick to a daily writing schedule. This time, I won’t procrastinate and then quit.
Well, this time has been no different than the few times I’ve tried this before—ever since completing my last contracted book in 2013, I’ve been unable to overcome the procrastination and laziness that overwhelms me whenever I think about sitting down to write.
It’s not that I don’t want to write—or at least do something creative. As most of you well know, I deal with depression on a daily basis. Not only am I wired for it, but I also take medication that exacerbates it. (And medication to try to counteract that.) I work from home so I don’t really feel much accountability to keep a regular daily schedule, despite telling myself every weekend that this week I’m going to make myself get up at a regular time and sit at the work computer for eight hours—with breaks, of course—and focus on my job instead of allowing myself to get distracted with other stuff, which just makes the work day extend well into the evening; and then I don’t feel like doing anything else. And it just becomes a vicious loop of distraction and procrastination and wallowing in the “blah” feeling of unmotivation that the depression brings on, instead of working to overcome it.
See, I know deep down that if I make myself stick to a schedule, both for work and for writing, I’ll feel and function better both mentally and emotionally. I’ll have more energy to get more stuff done around the house (you don’t even want to know what a wreck it’s become). I’ll actually get stuff done, which in turn will give me an emotional boost, which will make overcoming the blahs/procrastination tendency that much easier the next time.
Yet, I don’t.
Confession: I’ve Been Playing Instead of Writing
It’s not that I haven’t been channeling the need to do something creative. Although some of my time has been spent productively in working on hand-crafted Christmas gifts, the majority of my time has been spent working on something that has become a go-to for me when I wallow in my depression long enough that I need a mental escape. It’s a project I call my “imaginary husband.” It started years ago as an alternate reality for myself when I was “self”(un)employed and struggling to make ends meet through diminishing freelance editing projects and writing contracts. Imagining myself falling in love and living a fabulous life with a great husband in a great house with a great job gave me a mental and emotional escape that I needed to help me through that time.
In the past couple of months, I’ve found myself returning more and more frequently to that outlet and losing myself in it for hours at a time. It isn’t writing—it’s both analytical (scouring websites for events that “we” could go to/be involved with and setting up a calendar of events) and visual (creating virtual paper dolls of me and the template for the imaginary husband—a guy I found on a stock photo site—choosing outfits, which means lots of virtual shopping for the clothes and accessories, and even down to choosing restaurants and “ordering” our meals at each one from viewing their menus online). It’s something that uses many of my skills: analytical, creative, graphic, design. However, it isn’t really productive, and it’s really just more procrastination.
Actually, it’s a lot like what I used to do when I started making the transition from playing with Barbies and then, eventually, into writing when I was around thirteen or fourteen years old. Only, back then, I had to use catalogs and magazines, glue/tape, and loose-leaf notebooks, since the Internet didn’t exist. It’s playing. It isn’t writing.
Discovering and Using the (Writing) Force
If you ever had to take physics, you know Newton’s first law of motion: An object at rest tends to stay at rest while an object in motion will stay in motion. This is known as inertia. The object at rest will remain at rest until acted upon by an “unbalancing” force. (Yes, that’s a simplification.) In the physical realm, this means an outside entity must act upon the object to get it to move (or stop). In the mental/emotional realm, it can also be an outside force that must be enacted (a deadline, a contract, a commitment to others, etc.). However, most of the time, it requires that force come from within.
So, my “imaginary husband” project has created an object-at-rest state for me. It’s a lot like overeating junk food—it’s satisfying in the moment, but then as soon as it’s over, I feel guilty for not making better choices. Which just makes overcoming the mental/emotional hurdles that much harder.
It’s so easy to sit here, while writing this post, and tell myself this time it’ll be different. This time, I’ll actually stick to my commitment to write daily. This time, I’m really going to do it. But those are just words. And words are easy to say (type). Action is harder.
But then, thinking about everything that I need to change (work schedule, writing schedule, being a better housekeeper, making healthier food choices, etc.), it becomes overwhelming. So I know I need to make smaller changes. Getting up 20 minute earlier every day until I’m back on a normal work schedule. Setting a timer for one hour and making myself focus on work before taking a 10-minute break. Writing 50 words. Then 100 words. Then 200 words. Taking it in small chunks until I’ve built up the INERTIA needed to be an object that stays in motion.
It’s 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. I’ve already done most of my work for today (just need to send in my daily report). So that means the rest of the evening is mine to do with what I will. So here’s what I’m going to accomplish tonight:
1. Write/publish a blog post. (DONE!)
2. Write at least 200 words on my novel between now and the time I go to bed.
3. Take the trash out (trash-pickup is early Thursday morning on my street).
4. Unload the dishwasher and put the dishes currently in the sink into it.
5. Put the couple of boxes of stuff that need to go to Goodwill in the car.
Now, if accomplishing this to do list taps me into the Force and gives me momentum, I might do more than this. But even if I just get these five things accomplished, it’ll be more than I’ve done in quite some time.
Assignment: What are five things that you can to tonight that will help you tap into the “force” and go from at-rest to in-motion?
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